Shaikh Aqil al-Aqil told the London-based, Saudi-owned Al-Asharq al-Awsat  newspaper on Thursday that he had been relieved of his duties from the organisation he headed for 13 years, but did not provide reasons. 

The decision was made by Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Salih al-Shaikh, who chairs al-Haramain's board of directors, the Saudi-owned, pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper said. 

Both newspapers have said Aqil has been replaced by one of his deputies, Dabbas al-Dabbas, who is in charge of the charity's assistance operations. 

Targeting charities

Al-Haramain was among a number of Saudi charities accused by Washington of "financing terrorism" after the 11 September 2001 attacks. 

The families of victims of the attacks, in which 15 of the 19
suspected hijackers were Saudi, last August filed a civil complaint, accusing three members of the kingdom's royal family as well as Saudi banks and charities, including al-Haramain, of "financing terrorism". They claimed trillions of dollars in compensation. 

On 23 December, the United States moved to freeze the assets of two European offshoots of Islamic groups, suspected of raising money for the al-Qaida network. 

The Bosnian branch

The joint action with the government of Saudi Arabia targeted the Travnik, Bosnia-based organisation Vazir and trading firm Hochburg AG from Vaduz, Liechtenstein, for having fronted for entities already sanctioned by the international community, the Treasury Department announced in Washington. 

Washington and Riyadh were asking the United Nations to put the two groups on its list of "terror financiers", which would compel UN members to freeze their assets all around the world and halt financial transactions with them. 

US officials said Vazir sprouted last May, slightly more than a
year after the UN Sanctions Committee listed the Bosnian branch of al-Haramain, which resulted in its dissolution - at least officially. 

It appeared the group had a new head and remained in business, US officials said last month, adding that the US
government had obtained information Vazir was merely a new name for al-Haramain.